It's common to keep dogs on a leash, but most people find it acceptable to let cats roam.

Perhaps it is because we trust that cats will stick close to home. Maybe it's because we think the animals are smart enough to find their way back to us.

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Regardless, if you have an outdoor cat, you shouldn't — especially if you live in Northern Colorado. Here's why:

It's Illegal to Have Outdoor Cats in Fort Collins and Loveland

The City of Fort Collins bans "pet animals at large" in section 4-93 of its Municipal Code. This means your cat can't be outside without a form of restraint in the Choice City.

According to the Northern Colorado Wildlife Center (NCWC), Loveland also prohibits unrestrained animals within City limits. These rules don't extend to all of Larimer County — but it's still a good idea to keep your cats inside.

Outdoor Cats Harm Colorado's Natural Wildlife

NCWC reports that outdoor cats are responsible for the deaths of over two billion birds (one recently injured a Colorado common poorwill) and 10 billion mammals every year.

"Outdoor cats are one of the leading causes of species decline among birds in North America and greatly impact many mammal and reptile population numbers as well," NCWC told Townsquare NoCo. "These are enormous numbers that we cannot overlook if we want to help our native species."

The City of Fort Collins notes that outdoor cats can also spread diseases to wildlife — and keeping your cat indoors can help it live longer.

How Your Cat Can Responsibly Enjoy the Outdoors

Just because your cat can't roam outside doesn't mean it can't safely enjoy the outdoors.

According to the NCWC, your cat can be outside on a leash or in an enclosed backyard (make sure you're supervising them).

You could also get creative and build your pet a catio — yup, that's a thing.

Want to learn more about our feline friends? Check out 47 fun facts about cats in the gallery below:

Why do cats have whiskers? Why do they meow? Why do they nap so much? And answers to 47 other kitty questions:

Why do they meow? Why do they nap so much? Why do they have whiskers? Cats, and their undeniably adorable babies known as kittens, are mysterious creatures. Their larger relatives, after all, are some of the most mystical and lethal animals on the planet. Many questions related to domestic felines, however, have perfectly logical answers. Here’s a look at some of the most common questions related to kittens and cats, and the answers cat lovers are looking for.

Pluto: Meet the Colorado Cat Who Loves to Go on Adventures

Meet the Colorado cat who loves to go on adventures, including hiking, swimming, sledding, and more. Take a look at some pictures of Pluto the cat's adventures.

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